One of the major directions Dianemo has taken over the last few years has been a drive for simplicity & reliability. That focus led us to the realisation that we needed to rethink how systems were configured and at the same time add some new technologies & capabilities to the overall system to make the goal attainable.
We started to look at the whole Dianemo system, much of which at the time still relied on configurations, setup and processes that we'd inherited from the Pluto days. One of the first things that hit us was that in the area of media distribution and delivery we needed to make some big changes. At the time we still used Media Directors but the world around us had changed and increasingly the TV's we were connecting to our MD's were SmartTV's with their own IP connections & integrated UPnP media players. It quickly dawned on us that by configuring MD's on system we were relegating the SmartTV's to being...well just dumb TV's. We weren't utilizing all the great hardware capabilities in these TV's at all. The original reason MD's were developed in the Pluto days was because there were no low cost media players back then so the Pluto guys had to build their own from PC components. There were also no Touch based tablets back then either, well there were but they were super expensive 7-8,000 USD devices that came with Crestron systems, so the only cost effective way to put a UI into a room was to create one inside an MD and use the TV to display it to users. But now we had very affordable small touch based tablets & smartphones that could display a much better UI and we have great UPnP media players built directly into SmartTV's and for older TV's we could use low-cost stand-alone UPnP media players for video playback. So we could move the UI to the customers tablet and use the SmartTV directly for streaming and all of those activities could be orchestrated over IP & UPnP by Dianemo's NerveCentre. If we needed any other local control/sensors then we could locate other low power/cost dedicated devices wherever we needed them for that purpose all connected back to the NerveCentre by IP.
As we worked through the ramifications of this though process we realised that moving away from MD's, together with some other related changes, meant that we could actually reduce the kind of hardware we needed in the NerveCentre because it was being asked to do far less heavy lifting. All of this meant we ended up with a far simpler more reliable overall system with a much lower energy burn. We could now deliver a good level of performance in smaller Homes using a low end Atom based NerveCentre. A typical small apartment/small house system would now be essentially a small compact Atom based NerveCentre, network switch + Wifi router, Some SmartTV's, Squeezebox devices for audio all controlled from a handheld touch based UI on a tablet. In functional terms this system could do everything the previous generation of systems had done but with possibly 60+ % less hardware and more than a 50% reduction in complexity and at least a 40% reduction in energy burn too.
The only real loss in this approach was the on screen TV UI. We didn't feel this was a great loss - it was only there through expediency and a quirk of circumstance that went back to the very limted hardware we had available in the early days. In fact over-hauling the UI was something we'd wanted to do for some time, and now we were free of the so called '10 foot' UI we could think about a new approach to UI's, and that was really the moment that our, soon to be released, Athena HTML5 UI was born.
So today yes we still have some older installations that use MD's and we still have some new customers who wan't to stick with MD's still too. But the vast majority of our installations, 80% or more, are now MD free and use SmartTV's or media players instead. That means more affordable & reliable systems with lower complexity too.
See here our current offers;http://forum.linuxmce.org/index.php?topic=8880.msg100221#msg100221
All the best